For years, lawmakers have debated whether or not Puerto Rico should gain statehood. This week the effort gained further traction after bipartisan support introduced legislation that would lay the groundwork to admit Puerto Rico as a state of the Union. A group of 51 Congressional members, under the name of “Fighting for Equality and Democracy for our Fellow Americans,” under the leadership of Florida Rep. Darren Soto (D) and Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon (R), announced the legislation. Senator Martin Heinrich (D) is leading a similar effort in the Senate, and Puerto Rico gaining statehood has already received support from Florida leadership like Senator Marco Rubio (R) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R).
In announcing the legislation, Soto detailed that “last November, Americans in Puerto Rico reached a clear consensus: their destiny lies with statehood.” As a result, “our historic legislation will finally end over 120 years of colonialism and provide full rights and representation to more than 3.2 million Americans.” He added that “our quest for statehood is about respecting democracy and equality in Puerto Rico,” and the group is looking “forward to working with President Biden and congressional leaders from both parties and chambers to advance and pass the Puerto Rico Statehood Admission Act.”
Gonzalez Colon echoed in Soto’s remarks, noting that “although Puerto Rico is fully integrated into the nation’s economic system, it is foreign for tax purposes, not incorporated for tariff purposes, and receives unequal treatment under critical programs like Medicaid and Medicare.” In turn, by granting Puerto Rico statehood, it “will strengthen Puerto Rico and make America a more perfect union.”
Senator Rubio recently put out a press release urging senators to keep an “open mind” on statehood.
“Our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico have democratically expressed their support for becoming a state,” Rubio said. “I urge my Senate colleagues to keep an open mind and learn more about statehood before taking a firm position in opposition. I will continue to do my part to one day achieve the 60 votes needed in the Senate for admission. As part of that effort, we should help Puerto Rico recapture its former economic prosperity by passing my bipartisan MMEDS Act to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical industry and make America less reliant on foreign nations for critical medicines.”